What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) treatment is a form of psychotherapy — or talk therapy — that utilizes a cognitive-behavioral approach. However, DBT recognises that our negative thoughts are not triggered in isolation, but in relation to our environment. Hence it emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. DBT was developed by psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s to help people who suffered from emotional dysregulation. Through her experience, she realized that emotional dysregulation was the combination of an emotional response system that was over-sensitive and over-reactive, together with an inability to modulate the resulting strong emotions.
How does Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Work?
Some people are prone to react in a more intense and out-of-the-ordinary manner toward certain emotional situations, primarily those found in close romantic, family and friend relationships. DBT theory suggests that certain people’s arousal levels in such situations can increase far more quickly than the average person’s, attain a higher level of emotional stimulation, and take a significant amount of time to return to baseline arousal levels. This pattern creates a lot of emotional and interpersonal problems.
DBT is based on the theory of dialectics, which refers to the fact that human beings hold opposing thoughts within ourselves and therefore, live in states of contradiction and synthesis. This theory has 3 main assumptions:
- Everything is connected to everything else in the world.
- Change is constant and inevitable.
- Opposites can be integrated to form a closer approximation to the truth.
When people hold strong opposing thoughts within themselves, they struggle to manage the internal conflict and they feel that change occurs only when one force is stronger than the other. In DBT, the patient and the therapist work towards resolving the internal conflict of self-acceptance vs change to bring about positive changes, amongst many others.
In addition, specific skills are taught to address areas of self-dysregulation, interpersonal dysregulation, emotional dysregulation and behavioral dysregulation.
What problems can DBT help you with?
Numerous studies have shown that DBT has been very helpful with conditions/disorders such as
- Social Phobia
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Violence & aggression
- Conduct Disorder
- Personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Anger management
- Non-suicidal self-injury
- Suicide attempts
DBT has also been shown to help increase overall adjustment and improve one’s self-esteem.
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